Frederic S. Remington (1861–1909)
Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company
The Broncho Buster, 1895
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Collection
Frederic Remington made his astonishing debut as a sculptor with The Broncho Buster. His career in sculpture began with the active encouragement of the academically trained sculptor Frederick Ruckstull (1853–1942), who assured Remington that he could draw as clearly with clay as he could on paper. Ruckstull helped him with technical matters, urging him to think of a popular subject with “fine composition, correct movement, and expressive form.” Remington, who knew little about the technical limitations of bronze casting, created a model that immediately challenged established conventions of sculptural composition. He excitedly wrote a friend to say that “I am modeling—I find I do well—I am doing a cowboy on a bucking broncho and I am going to rattle down through all the ages.” Remington was entirely self-taught as a sculptor, and this subject of a cowboy astride a rearing horse proved to be the artist’s most popular work. This particular example—one of three casts in the Amon Carter Museum collection—was produced by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company in New York using a sand-casting process that involved the careful preparation of molds filled with a special type of fine sand. Approximately sixty-four largely identical castings appear to have been made by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company between 1895 and 1900. Remington’s spirited sculpture of a bronc rider has become one of the most enduring images of the western experience. The work’s perpetuation of western myths is due in part to its great popularity, and the fact that its image is instantly recognizable to a broad audience. “I propose to do some more,” he told The Century Magazine shortly after the first casts of The Bronco Buster were completed, “to put the wild life of our West into something that burglar won’t have, moth eat, or time blacken.”